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Isaac Blackwell (1888-1977) was a career member of the United States Army. Blackwell first served as a Private in the Panama Canal War, during which he was promoted all the way to Major before the war ended, becoming, at 20, the Army's youngest Major at the war's end in 1908. He later served most of the duration of the Great War as Major, being promoted to Lt. Colonel shortly before the war's end. After the war he served as an army contractor and then as a specialist in designing tools of war. In 1925 President William H. Taft appointed him Ambassador to the German substate of Alaska, where he remained until 1938 when President Herbert Hoover recalled him to Washington, DC in the wake of the German invasions of Poland and Mexico. Lt. Colonel Blackwell was briefly stationed in Yuma, Arizona within General Omar Bradley's First Army until newly-sworn-in President Henry Stimson promoted him to Brigadier General and named him commander of Fourth Army, which oversaw the conquest and occupation of German Alaska during World War II. Later on in life he served as President Omar Bradley's Secretary of War from 1953 to 1961, and then succeeded Dwight Eisenhower as General in command of all forces in Vietnam in 1962, a post he held until that war's end eleven years later. He died in 1977.
Isaac Blackwell was born in 1888 to Joseph Blackwell and Meredith Phillips in Headquarters, Idaho. His parents were there prospecting for gold, near where E.D. Pierce had discovered it in 1860. Joseph was a veteran Lieutenant from the Second Civil War, having fought under General Henry Hunt until he was injured at Sandusky. Isaac had been helping his father run the family general store when war broke out in 1906. The day after he turned 18, Isaac traveled to Lewiston, Idaho and joined the Army. Months later, he was sent to the violent Canal Zone.
Private Blackwell served in the Canal Zone for the remainder of 1906. By the end of that year, he had been promoted to Sergeant after witnessing the deaths of countless comrades. In early 1907, Sergeant Blackwell daringly led a thrust to recapture a portion of land on the opposite side of the Panama Canal. When it succeeded, he was promoted to Lieutenant at a mere 19 years old. He was sent back across the canal to be a vital part of Major Wade Hampton IV and General Philip Sheridan's Operation Cloverleaf. After the success of Cloverleaf in October 1907, Blackwell was again promoted, now a Captain. becoming fast friedns to Major Hampton, despite a great difference in age. Blackwell helped Sheridan's Army of the Rio Grande push forward into Panamanian territory, dealing the French a devastating blow when the canal was recaptured. In 1908, however, the Germans came to Panama's aid, and the U.S. bean rapidly losing ground. Blackwell and Hampton pulled off a daring move that left a sizeable German force trapped on the American side of the canal, for which Blackwell was promoted to Major, but soon afterwards, Germany had pushed the Americans uot of Panama entirely, and demanded an armistice. Despite Hampton and Blackwell's protests, Sheridan gave way and surrendered.
As the youngest Major in the Army at 20, Blackwell returned home a hero, despite the U.S. loss. He soon found life in northern Idaho boring, and moved to Pittsburgh, where he helped design tools of war. In 1913 he relocated to Washington, DC and became an army contractor, reuniting with Major Hampton. After the death of Philip Sheridan, Hampton was promoted straight to Brigadier General and became commander of the newly constituted First Army. when the Great War began in 1914, Blackwell and Hampton both wanted the U.S. to enter, but President Woodrow Wilson declined. When Wilson was poisoned in 1915 and Julius Kahn became Acting President, he declared the U.S. would enter the war. Blackwell and Hampton were initially pleased, until they were sent to the Mediterranean to attempt a landing in the Ottoman Empire, far from where they wanted to be - getting revenge on Germany.